What To Look For In A General Contractor
No matter how handy you may be with the power tools, there will come a time when you will need to hire the services of a general contractor. Sure you may pride yourself on your ability to handle even the most complex building tasks or your complete collection of shiny, well maintained tools. But if you are like most homeowners, you will eventually come across a construction or renovation job that is simply beyond your–or your toolbox’s–capabilities. It is during these very occasions that you will need a general contractor.
Unfortunately, the task of finding a qualified building contractor is easier said than done. For every qualified building general contractor out there, many more are liable to botch up the job! It is a long and arduous road to becoming a general contractor, and relatively few are qualified. Nevertheless, there are general contractors out there that can help you realize your construction plans. You simply have to know what to look for in a qualified building contractor. Here are a few ideas:
The first thing you will want to look for in a general contractor is a set of good references. If you know anyone who has had construction work done recently, they can be valuable sources of references for good contractors. This will also give you a chance to find out firsthand from the actual client how well a particular contractor performed the job.
If you can’t get any good references from people in your immediate circle, you will have to ask around elsewhere. Ask the staff at architectural, design, or even construction supply firms for any recommendations they may be able to give you. Keep in mind however that leads you dig up from third parties will be a lot harder to verify, so you have your work cut out for you in terms of making sure the recommended contractors can meet your expectations.
Track record of successfully completed jobs
Once you have gotten a few references, you can begin exploring each option in detail and look into the track record of each potential candidate. Ask to see any construction work they have done in the past, or ask for the contact information of clients they have done work for recently. If the contractor you are considering has a good track record in the business, he will have no shortage of past customers who will be willing to give favorable testimonials. If the contractor you are considering cannot provide a list of satisfied clients, this probably means one of two things: inexperience in the construction field or a less than stellar track record in the industry. In either case, you would probably be better off looking for another general contractor company.
Your search for a commercial general contractor should not end with samples of his previous work. In order to reduce the risk of any potential problems, you should also look into his credentials and qualifications. Your first step in this regard is to check with your city’s building code inspector, local business bureau, or builder’s licensing board. This will allow you to find out if any complaints have been lodged against the contractor you are considering.
You should also ask any potential contractor about their license, as well as insurance and bonding compliance. Make sure that the contractor you are consulting with has the appropriate licenses as required by your city’s building codes. Now would also be the ideal time to ask your contractor what kind of liability insurance he carries, and the extent of its coverage. If your contractor is on the level, he should have no problem showing his credentials to any potential clients. This is an important part of the qualification process for any general building contractor–and indeed for almost any type of professional–so you should not neglect this crucial step. By making sure everything is in order, you will greatly reduce the risk of any liability on your part if things go wrong with the construction project, or if the workers end up unpaid.
Professional work attitude
Finally, you will want to make sure that the contractor you hire is easy to work with. Qualifications, credentials, and a good track record of successfully completed jobs are important of course, but it is in the day-to-day construction job that you will really see the worth of your building contractor. You don’t necessarily want a contractor who will paint a rosy picture of the project or present you with overly optimist project forecasts. Instead, you will want someone you can trust who will let you know about any potential problems before they come up, and will ideally have solutions to these problems. Remember that the success of the entire construction project hinges a great deal on the skills and capabilities of your chosen contractor, so you will want to hire one who will work closely with you towards the realization of the project’s goals.
You should also be on the lookout against contractors who seem vague, uncommunicative, or unaccommodating in any way. If you find yourself having difficulty communicating with your contractor at the outset, think about how much more difficult it will be once the work–and all the pressures associated with it–has begun in earnest. Remember that you may end up having to work with your contractor for several months, so it would be best to hire someone you can trust and get along with.